Herald Review: I have questions by Elisabeth Tyndall

 Sierra Vista Herald on 4/27/23
To the editor:
I have questions about Tuesday’s selection of Cochise County’s new Elections Director. Somehow Interim Director and Recorder David Stevens found a person to run the department that left his position in New Mexico pre-election and now is leaving another AZ county. A quick social media search provides a glimpse of a person who likes to travel and spread election disinformation.
This person’s application indicates he is not certified in Arizona to run elections and apparently doesn’t want prospective employers to contact his old jobs. Will Mr. Bartelsmeyer hang around for multiple elections in 2024, or will he move on to the next big thing? Will Mr. Bartelsmeyer be a rubber stamp for Crosby, Judd and Stevens who would like to have in person, paper ballot, no early voting, only in your precinct elections?
After the continued shameful tax dollar wasting actions by these three, how can we trust that this choice is the best for Cochise County voters and not yet another move to make Cochise the laboratory for election deniers? Either way Cochise County voters are the losers if Crosby, Judd and Stevens continue to use disinformation to make their decisions.
Elisabeth Tyndall
Sierra Vista

Bob Karp: Welcome Shasta County to the Recall

Shasta County in California dumps Dominion voting machines for hand counting ballots

The Los Angeles Times reports turmoil in the northern California county of Shasta as the newly elected Board of Supervisors majority decides to dump Dominion voting machines in favor of a hand count of election ballots for this county with 110,000 registered voters.  (Read background on this story in our News post. )
The result has been acrimonious board meetings, rulings and decisions over the objections of county staff, and a potential additional cost of $3 million to hand count ballots in the next two elections starting November 2023.
Here's where Shasta is beginning to look even more like Cochise County.  Again from the Los Angeles Times:  "In a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday spiced with angry personal attacks — and during which Supervisor Kevin Crye was served with recall papers on the dais mid-session..." and it doesn't stop there "Some voters are now talking of mounting recall efforts targeting two other board members in the Gateway district. There is talk of another recall in the Anderson school district. And the potential recall of Crye, who was served papers at Tuesday’s board meeting."
The [Crye] recall petition alleges that in just four months in office, Crye had “brought nationwide ridicule and embarrassment to our county through his actions and voting.”  This language is very similar to the Tom Crosby recall petition.
With the hiring of an election denier for Cochise County's new Elections Director, we could be heading down the same path.  For conservative voters who have always complained about wasted government spending, I expect you to protest vigorously as our Board of Supervisors spends money because of a lie.
At least one voter doesn't see it this way.  In a reply to a tweet of mine and the Recall Tom Crosby committee he says "I bet you’re willing to pay a tax for the jail. Hand counts, paper and same day voting are worth it."  So he won't chip in for a new county jail, but is willing to pay for paper ballots and a hand count.  By the way all the vote by mail ballots are paper and over 80% of voters in Cochise County vote by mail.

California county goes to hand counting ballots

Could this happen in Cochise County?

Northern California Shasta County has become the first county in the U.S. to dump its Dominion voting machines in favor of a hand count of ballots.

From the Los Angeles Times article 4/28/2023:  "The board's decision earlier this year to sever the county's long-standing relationship with Dominion, one of the largest suppliers of voting machines and software in the U.S, has garnered national attention as an example of the chaos wrought by unfounded claims of voter fraud pushed by former President Trump and his allies after his failed 2020 reelection bid. Last week, Fox News agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million to settle a defamation suit the company filed accusing the network of knowingly promoting false claims that its voting machines had been used to manipulate election results."

Shasta's elected Registrar of Voters (similar to Cochise County's elected Recorder) objected, but now has been instructed to begin preparations for a hand count election this coming November.  The board of supervisors told that there would be costs up to $3 million for additional personnel to do the hand count the next two elections, instructed the Registrar of Voters to hire an additional 7 people.


Herald Review: Please sign the recall petition by Ronnie Maestas-Condos

Published in the Herald/Review 4/26/2023
I like Tom Crosby. Newflash: I neither like Tom nor dislike Tom. I am a constituent of Mr. Crosby, who is the current supervisor of District 1 in Cochise County, which includes Sierra Vista and surrounding areas. There seem to be many who are unaware of Mr. Crosby but please read on.
Recently I have been called upon to engage in a signature gathering effort to recall Mr. Crosby along with many other alarmed District 1 constituents. The reason we are feeling a need to act and recall Mr. Crosby is because he, along with Supervisor Peggy Judd and County Recorder David Stevens, were engaged in an effort to deny the results and thereby the votes of 48,000 Arizona voters. They defied a court order, ignored the advice of legal council and the demands of Arizona election officials to certify the 2022 election results.
Mr. Crosby and Ms. Judd, as a result of their continued obstructive behavior, have incurred more than $100,000 in legal fees which will be courtesy of our tax dollars. So I do not like nor dislike Mr. Crosby but it seems he did not like the results of our votes and chose instead to spread misinformation about those results, and cause people to mistrust a proven system. Mr. Crosby acted illegally and unfaithfully, he cannot be trusted and needs to be recalled from office.
Please sign the recall petition.
Ronnie Maestas-Condos

How to sign a candidate nomination petition online

Signing online takes only two minutes

The Arizona Secretary of State's online candidate petition system is secure and easy to use.  You will need your Arizona driver's license and your home address used when you registered to vote.

Information provided is not authorized by the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.  It should be used as a guide to signing through the E-Qual system, and may not reflect changes in the system or laws. 

Before you start:  have your Arizona State Driver's License or Voter ID and DOB available.

In your browser start at https://apps.azsos.gov/equal/

Click on the SIGN A CANDIDATE NOMINATING PETITION graphic.  Note:  Ignore the $5 dollar qualifying contribution button for this action.

Enter your information (usually AZ driver's license and DOB)
You do not need your Voter  Registration ID and the last four digits of your social security number if you have your driver's license info.
Select the Submit button at the bottom left of the screen to got to the address verification screen.

Only the street number of your address is shown with the state and the Zip code.  Make sure this matches where you are registered to vote before continuing.

If the address information is correct, select the Yes button at the left bottom of the screen.

The system shows only those candidates that have allowed for online nomination petition signatures that YOU ARE ALLOWED TO SIGN.  This means the system has correctly identified the district(s) in which you live and has shown you candidates running in the Democratic Primary (for partisan offices) or November 2024 general election (for non partisan offices) in your district.
Note: If you are registered as an Independent or have not declared a party, you are shown all candidates that have online petitions available.
Note:  The image shown to the left is as of 4/25/2023 for a registered Democrat living in Sierra Vista.  Your list could be different.  Be sure to scroll completely through the list to see all candidates available to you.
To sign a petition, select the candidate's name on the left.
The candidate's petition information is shown.  You have the option of providing the candidate your email address.  It is not required to sign the petition.
If you want to sign, select the "Yes, I want to sign the petition" button to sign.  Be sure to click yes on the confirmation button on the final screen.

That's it, you're done!

Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby select election denier for county Election Director

Commentary: Could it get any worse?

From the Associated Press' Jonathan Cooper as published in the Beaumont Enterprise "A rural Arizona county where leaders have embraced voting machine conspiracies on Tuesday hired an elections director who has promoted the false claims that voter fraud cost former President Donald Trump reelection in 2020. The two Republicans on the three-member Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted to hire Bob Bartelsmeyer, who shared memes on his personal Facebook page supporting Trump's claims of fraud and promoting the lie that Dominion voting machines manipulated the outcome."
Voters in Cochise County raised alarms about Bartelsmeyer's work history, resume and fairness to take on the position of county Election Director.  I reviewed Bartelsmeyer's work history and resume submitted to the county for the job and as an employer what stood out to me is a 10 year gap in his employment history. What did he do between 2010 and 2022 when he was hired by La Paz county?
I also wonder if the county did a background check on this guy?  Apparently it was very easy to find his partisan and conspiracy laden posts about the 2020 election on Facebook.  That certainly would be enough of a reason not to hire this man to oversee the processing of ballots in an election.
But the Republican majority on the board of supervisors went ahead and allowed County Recorder (R), David Stevens to hire him anyway.
The circus that came to town in the aftermath on the 2022 general election hasn't left our county.  In fact in has pitched a tent for a long stay.  Beware!
Read the entire Beaumont Enterprise article.

David Stevens hand picks election denier to be new county Elections Director

Cochise County ready to hire elections director who spread false claims of 2020 election rigging

Jen Fifield, Votebeat Arizona

Votebeat is a nonprofit news organization reporting on voting access and election administration across the U.S. Sign up for our free newsletters here.

Cochise County is close to hiring an elections director who has repeatedly shared false claims about widespread election fraud on Facebook, including claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against former President Donald Trump.

Bob Bartelsmeyer, currently the elections director in La Paz County, was chosen by Cochise County Recorder David Stevens for the spot. The county supervisors are set to appoint him at their Tuesday meeting, according to a meeting agenda posted on the county website.

“Please join me by posting ‘Trump legally won by landslide’” one post shared by Bartelsmeyer in December 2020 said. “REVEALED: ‘Simple Math’ Shows Biden Claims 13 MILLION More Votes Than There Were Eligible Voters Who Voted in 2020,” read another.

In Cochise, Bartelsmeyer would be working for a southern Arizona county where the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors is considering GOP-backed changes to the county’s elections. Proposals include pursuing a potential plan to get rid of the county’s vote-counting machines because of false claims of vote switching that are similar to those shared by Bartelsmeyer in 2020.

Supervisor Ann English, the lone Democrat on the board, told Votebeat she was concerned that hiring Bartelsmeyer would mean no one would stand in the supervisors’ or Stevens’ way if they attempted to move forward with concerning changes to elections.

“It certainly is scary for me to think about someone coming in to take over an elections system that hasn’t had any problems, with an attitude that elections in the past haven’t been fair,” English said.

In hiring Bartelsmeyer, the county would also be choosing someone with decades of experience administering elections. Prior to his hiring in La Paz — a rural county in western Arizona — a year ago, Bartelsmeyer said he ran or worked in elections in Mohave County and counties in Missouri, Florida, and New Mexico.

Earlier this year the Cochise supervisors gave Stevens, the Republican recorder who also has doubts about the security of elections, more control of them, including oversight of the elections director position. That was after they illegally attempted to block the certification of Cochise County’s November election and tried to move forward with a plan to illegally hand-count all ballots,

The position is open after longtime elections director Lisa Marra resigned in January, claiming she was maligned and harassed after refusing to move forward with the illegal hand-count plan. The supervisors had planned to move control of elections to Stevens even before Marra left.

Asked on Monday if he supported the supervisors’ attempts to illegally hand-count all ballots and not certify the election, Bartelsmeyer indicated he did not.

“I believe that you must follow state statutes and the elections procedure manual with regard to elections,” he wrote in an email.

Asked how his support for false claims about election fraud in the 2020 election would affect how he runs elections, Bartelsmeyer wrote that in 2020, he was a “private citizen and was at liberty to express my beliefs from sources within the campaign at that time especially with mail in ballots.”

But, he went on to say, that was no longer true. “As an Elections Director, a person cannot express their personal opinions with any campaign as one must be neutral and bipartisan,” he wrote. “My mission is to provide outstanding voter services with integrity, transparency and accuracy in Cochise County.”

Nonetheless, he has shared his opinion publicly during his tenure in La Paz. On Oct. 27, a few weeks before the Nov. 8 election, Bartelsmeyer shared a Breitbart post saying that GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was polling ahead of her Democratic opponent, adding, ‘You go girl!!’ with a thumbs-up emoji.

From 2016 to 2021, he posted numerous posts in support of Trump, though it’s unclear from publicly available information what position he held at that time if any. He didn’t respond to a follow-up question asking if he still supports Trump, who is running for president again in 2024.

English said Tuesday afternoon that she hadn’t been given any information about Bartelsmeyer’s background in advance of the Tuesday meeting. Republican Supervisor Peggy Judd said that she had received all the information she thought was pertinent to know before the vote, and she planned to support his hiring.

She said that his position on the 2020 election was “valid” and she believes he can still be impartial in his role despite his views. She pointed out that Marra publicly shared political opinions and said she didn’t believe this to be any different.

“I think he is going to be fine,” she said.

Stevens has told Votebeat that he does not believe ballot tabulation machines are secure and he believes the county should have a conversation about whether hand-counting ballots would be best. He did not respond to questions Monday about his recommendation to hire Bartelsmeyer.

The original posting for the elections director job asked applicants to identify their political affiliation, according to a story in the Sierra Vista Herald. County officials said at the time that they had misunderstood state law and thought this was required, and said they would remove the question.

For his part, Bartelsmeyer told Votebeat he believes tabulation machines “are 99.9% accurate.” He said counties should follow state law on hand-counting a percentage of ballots after the election.

But in his 2020 posts, Bartelsmeyer spread false claims about Dominion Voting Systems, a manufacturer of election equipment, and other false claims from former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell about widespread voter fraud in six swing states. One quote he shared falsely said that instances of fraudulent voting that occurred in 2020 were “treasonous.”

Many of his posts were marked by Facebook as misinformation, with a disclaimer added to some posts reminding readers that “election officials have strict rules when it comes to ballot counting, handling and reporting.”

“We must demand election integrity and transparency in the 2020 election for America to survive as a democracy and for the America we know and love!!,” Bartelsmeyer wrote in a Dec. 6, 2020 post.

Most of Bartelsmeyer’s experience was from his 23 years as county clerk in Lawrence County, Missouri, according to a story in the Parker Pioneer, a La Paz County news outlet. In 2010, he abruptly left a spot as elections supervisor in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, after holding the position for less than a year, according to a story in the local newspaper.

When hired in La Paz, a rural county in western Arizona with about 11,000 registered voters, Bartelsmeyer told the Parker Pioneer that the county already had ways to ensure that its elections were transparent and secure and “has done a fine job of conducting elections.”

He would have a much larger population to serve in Cochise County, which had about 77,000 registered voters as of November. He told Votebeat that he wants the job because he is “looking for a new challenge with a serious effort to be a team player in the face of challenges with a larger jurisdiction.”

“I want to make a difference and make a significant contribution to the Cochise County Elections Department,” he wrote.

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat who has prominently supported the way elections are run in Arizona, declined to comment on Bartelsmeyer’s past Facebook posts. Fontes’ office provides support to elections directors as they run their counties’ elections.

At least six of Arizona’s 15 counties have seen election directors leave recently, and Fontes has attributed the high turnover directly to the attacks and harassment the directors have faced because of election misinformation, such as the kind spread by Bartelsmeyer.

When Marra resigned, Fontes went on national television and spoke about her resignation and others, calling them an emergency because of the loss of experience.

“We need to end this nonsense,” Fontes said at the time. “But we need to do it with vigor and with strength because I think that is the only language that these terrorists are going to pay attention to.”

Jen Fifield is a reporter for Votebeat based in Arizona. Contact Jen at jfifield@votebeat.org.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.